In a major relief to over 24,000 students from Tamil Nadu who wrote the Neet examination in Tamil this year and were faced with 49 questions which were themselves wrong, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court today directed the Central Board for Secondary Education to give them 196 grace marks at the rate of four marks for each of these questions and prepare a fresh rank list for admission to medical courses.
It directed the Central Board for Secondary Education to publish a fresh list of the qualified candidates within two weeks and stayed all the current proceedings which have arisen from the current candidate list.
A division bench comprising Justices C T Selvam and A M Basheer Ahamed passed the order on a public interest litigation filed by T K Rangarajan, MP from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), seeking direction to award 196 grace marks for the Tamil medium students on the ground that there were errors in translation of questions in 49 out of the 180 questions in the Tamil medium question paper in NEET exam this year.
Stating that these students should be suitably compensated to provide a level playing field, the judges directed CBSE to grant four marks for each of the 49 erroneous questions, totalling 196., The court said the board, while revising the list,can go ahead with counseling candidates who have already become eligible. However, their list should be kept in abeyance till the fresh list is ready
The judges rejected the CBSE’s explanation that ‘in case of ambiguity in questions in regional language, their English version will be final’. They asked how the CBSE can determine the mark of Tamil medium students on the basis of their proficiency in English.
They also pointed that key answers have more than one answer and the examiner has to award marks on the basis of the most appropriate answer. They asked how the CBSE could be “so uncertain about answers to questions raised by it”
They also said that if the Supreme Court permits the use of technical terms which are not capable of easy translation into a regional language, then the student who is to take the NEET exam in any regional language, should be apprised of such terms.
They also asked the board to permit students studying Class 12 in private should also be allowed to appear for Neet.
Welcoming the verdict, Rangarajan said the CBSE should not go in appeal in the interest of students. But he was sure it would, given the intransigent stand it had taken in court. “We are prepared for it and we shall file a caveat that we should be heard in case of appeal”.